State plan to protect honeybees goes into effect

Ben Merritt
FILE - In this May 27, 2015, file photo, volunteer Ben Merritt, a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati, checks honeybee hives for queen activity and performs routine maintenance as part of a collaboration between the Cincinnati Zoo and TwoHoneys Bee Co., in Mason, Ohio. A common and much-criticized pesticide dramatically weakens already vulnerable honey bee hives, according to a new massive in-the-field study in three European countries. For more than a decade, the populations of honey bees and other key pollinators have been on the decline. Other studies, mostly lab experiments, have pointed to problems with the insecticides called neonicotinoids, but the new research done in Britain, Hungary and Germany is the largest field study yet.(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – State officials have finalized a pesticide-management plan meant to protect honeybees and other pollinators from further population declines.

The Roanoke Times reports the voluntary plan mainly encourages beekeepers and pesticide applicators to better communicate about the location of hives and the dates and times of pesticide spraying. It does not strengthen existing pesticide regulations.

The plan stems from an Obama administration directive calling for a national strategy to safeguard pollinators.

For more than a decade, bees and other pollinators have been rapidly declining. Scientists blame a mix of parasites, disease, pesticides and poor nutrition.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says farmers and gardeners depend on pollinators to produce important Virginia crops, including pumpkins, watermelons and berries.